By The Spoonful



Tabouli, Tabbouli, Tabbouleh… No matter how you spell it, it’s a parsley salad.

Parsley is an herb often used to enhance a dish or garnish a plate. You will find flat and curly leaf parsley in most supermarkets. Flat leaf or Italian parsley is the preferred choice for recipes where it is chopped and sprinkled over a dish or mixed in. Curly leaf parsley is what is used mainly to garnish a dinner plate to add a pop of color and is sometimes intended to be a palate cleanser.  I like this dish because parsley sits second class to none; it’s the main ingredient.

Though I prefer “tabouli,” “tabbouleh” is the more traditional spelling. It is a Levantine Arab salad customarily made with bulgur, tomato, mint and finely chopped parsley and seasoned with lemon juice and olive oil. It is often served as one of many selections of small dishes for a lunch or dinner.

Tabouli, in my view, is one of the most popular Middle Eastern cuisine dishes (next to hummus, that is). I see it everywhere; from pre-made salads to just-add-water box versions. You see Tabouli made with bulgur, couscous, brown rice or even quinoa. Bulgur is the more traditional choice, couscous and brown rice have become the more popular choice, and for gluten-free options quinoa or brown rice would be best.

Besides which grain is used, the amount of parsley in the salad also varies from recipe to recipe. Most recipes call for just enough parsley to show off a nice green color in the salad. I tend to like a lot of parsley in my Tabouli; I like it to show off since it normally sits in the side lines of a recipe. The other common version to Tabouli recipes is the use of mint. Some recipes call for it, others don’t. It’s a matter of preference. I will admit that it does help balance out the parsley flavor and adds a nice cooling sensation to the salad, but I also feel that it isn’t needed. If you want, experiment with this recipe yourself by adding a few Tablespoons of fresh mint chopped and mixed in.

I based my version of Tabouli on a style I had at a Middle Eastern restaurant called Neomonde inRaleigh,N.C.Their salad had a larger parsley-to-bulgur ratio typically seen. I greatly enjoyed this version and that’s why I recreate it in my recipe below. But, if you’re like my siblings and feel that parsley tastes like grass, go ahead and reduce the amount of parsley to your desired liking.

This salad has a very fresh flavor with a summery feel. It is perfect as a side dish to a light fish or chicken dish. Or it can be eaten as a small snack or lunch on its own.

Cook’s Note: the stems of parsley contain more flavor than the leaves. Don’t waste your time picking off all the parley leaves and tossing the stems. Add finely chopped stems to soups or sauces.


By The Spoonful

  • 1 cup bulgur
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 large cucumber
  • 2 tsp. salt
  • 3 cups fresh curly leaf parsley
  • 1/4 cup green onions, thinly sliced
  • 3 Roma tomatoes, seeded, chopped
  • 1 lemon, juiced
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil
  • pepper, to taste

In a sauce pan bring water and bulgur to a boil. Cover and remove pan from heat. Let bulgur sit for 15 minutes. Fluff with a fork, set aside.

Peel cucumber and quarter them lengthwise, remove seeds. Slice cucumber into ¼-inch slices. Place in a small bowl and sprinkle with salt*. Let stand for 30 minutes. Pour off liquid that has accumulated and pat dry.

Coarsely chop parsley and toss with bulgur, cucumber, onion, tomatoes, lemon juice, olive oil and pepper. Chill until needed.


Cucumbers in any salad recipe offers a good crunch, but often can leave the salad soggy a few hours later. The culinary secret is to salt cucumbers before adding them to your dish. The cucumbers will still stay quite crisp and fresh and won’t leak out any extra moisture- keeping your salad just as delicious and soggy free the next day.

Peel, slice and or dice the cucumbers depending on it’s intent. Place the cucumbers in a bowl or colander. I always use a colander because of the draining holes for the water to escape easily. Salt cucumbers well (about 1 tsp. per 1 cucumber), toss to evenly coat and let sit. If my sink is clean, I place the colander in the sink so the water from the cucumbers can go right down the drain. Otherwise, place the colander in a large bowl to capture the water. I find that weighting salted cucumbers with a heavy plate or two will force more water from them than just salting alone.

You can let the salted cucumbers sit for as little as 30 minutes or up to 12 hours (depending on how much water you want to reduce from the cucumbers). After the cucumbers are drained you now can add them to your recipe. If you are worried about the extra salt the cucumbers now will add to your recipe; go ahead and rinse and pat them dry before using them. That’s why I like using a colander for my salted cucumbers because I often rinse them under the facet quick before I add them to my recipes.

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One Response to “Tabouli”

  1. […] this day and age you can easily find these at the grocery store year round. Also try the original Tabouli recipe. Remember recipes can be made gluten-free when you swap out bulgur for […]